Swiss Catholic, other church leaders criticize vote to toughen immigration laws
Catholic News Service
FRIBOURG, Switzerland, Sept. 27, 2006 (www.catholic.org) – Swiss church leaders have criticized a late-September referendum in which citizens voted to give the country some of the toughest asylum and immigration laws in the Western world.
In a joint statement with Switzerland's Protestant and Jewish federations, the Catholic bishops said they respected the voters' decision but regretted that they had chosen to toughen the laws.
"We consider them improper for resolving the problems and contrary to our country's humanitarian tradition. We will follow their implementation with a watchful and critical eye," said the Sept. 24 statement, issued after results were announced for the referendum backing restrictions on asylum and admission for non-European job-seekers.
The bishops said they would continue working with local authorities to ensure the protection of refugees and would also "take seriously" promises by the referendum's supporters "not to damage Switzerland's humanitarian tradition or infringe (on) the Geneva Convention on refugees."
"Respect for equality before the law should be guaranteed, and the authorities should give the benefit of the doubt to the weakest," they said.
The bishops said they would continue offering pastoral support in immigration registration and holding centers, but said some church workers feared they could face legal sanctions under the new laws.